Diagnose heart attacks in minutes using this portable device

According to a study published in Lab on a Chip, it could be possible to detect / diagnose heart attacks in minutes – even in less than 30 seconds – using a cheap portable device.

The work by University of Notre Dame and the University of Florida researchers involves a sensor that could diagnose a heart attack and caters to a major issue wherein it takes health care professional hours to diagnose a heart attack thereby delaying critical care that patients require.

Scientists say that while initial results from an echocardiogram does reveal a heart disease, it requires further analysis involving blood sampling and analysis to confirm whether the patient had a heart attack or not. The sampling and analysis could take up to eight hours and this delay could prove to be fatal for many. Another major issue is that current techniques need to be applied within a certain time frame to get accurate results and so it also become a major hurdle in critical care.

The sensor targets a combination of miRNA, it can quickly diagnose more than just heart attacks without the timeline limitation. The sensor targets three distinct types of microRNA or miRNA and can distinguish between an acute heart attack and a reperfusion — the restoration of blood flow, or reperfusion injury, and requires less blood than traditional diagnostic methods to do so.

The ability to differentiate between someone with inadequate blood supply to an organ and someone with a reperfusion injury is an unmet, clinical need that this sensor addresses.

“The technology developed for this sensor showcases the advantage of using miRNA compared to protein-based biomarkers, the traditional diagnostic target,” said Hsueh-Chia Chang, the Bayer Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Notre Dame and co-author of the paper. “Additionally, the portability and cost efficiency of this device demonstrates the potential for it to improve how heart attacks and related issues are diagnosed in clinical settings and in developing countries.”

A patent application has been filed for the sensor and the researchers are working with Notre Dame’s IDEA Center to potentially establish a startup company that would manufacture the device.

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